Tag Archives: search engine optimization

How to Survive a Google Algorithmic Update

Do you know Fred?

No, we’re not talking about a person. We’re talking about the latest update to Google’s algorithm, which appeared like a thief in the night to steal traffic and website state. Seemingly without warning, completely out of the blue, Fred caused some website to lose a full half of their organic traffic; for a handful of sites, there were drops of more than 90 percent.

But Fred’s not the only such offender. Google rolls out these algorithmic updates every so often; you may have heard of Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, or some of the others. Generally, they cause a fair amount of panic in the SEO community, who rightly fear that they could lose their hard-earned Google rankings.

More updates will come. Always. You can count on it. So the question is, is your website prepared for them?

Why Does Google Update its Algorithms?

To understand how you can prepare for algorithmic updates, it’s important to understand why they happen in the first place. Google doesn’t change things just to keep SEO folks on their toes. No, Google changes things to provide a better product to its consumers. That is, Google changes things to provide high-quality content that is relevant to search engine queries.

If you look closely at some of the changes made by these past Google updates, from Fred on back, you’ll notice that they are essentially quality control measures. For example, Mobilegeddon penalized websites that didn’t have mobile-optimized settings—websites that were difficult to read or to navigate on mobile devices. That may sound mean or it may sound harsh, but Google was only trying to ensure that, when a mobile search engine user tries to find information, he or she is able to do so without any problem or hindrance.

Other updates have penalized pages that have bad content, repetitive content, keyword-stuffed content, duplicitous backlinks—basically, lazy SEO tricks that make the actual website content less valuable or less readable.

Protect Against Google Updates

For small business owners who want to avoid their own websites being penalized, then, the solution is actually fairly simple: Focus on providing useful and easy to read content for your readers—plain and simple. Help Google do its job of providing really first-rate and relevant content to search engine users.

Some specific tips:

  • Make sure your page is mobile optimized. Verify it on multiple types of device. If you need help making it mobile-friendly, talk to your website developer.
  • Beef up flimsy content—pages of fewer than 400 words are especially in danger of algorithmic penalties.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing; use key search phrases naturally and organically.
  • Provide easy-to-read and value-adding content with actionable takeaways.
  • Focus on informing the reader—not merely pleasing the search bots.

It all comes down to excellent content—and of course, that’s something we can help you with. Reach out to the content writing team at Grammar Chic for a consultation about your Web writing needs. Reach us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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4 Keyword Errors That Can Tank Your SEO

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Keywords are critical for successful search engine optimization (SEO), but they can also be stumbling blocks. We’ve all been to websites where the keywords were so dense and so awkward that the text didn’t read naturally, or offer any meaningful insight to the user. By the same token, you’ve probably struggled with blog posts or web pages that simply didn’t generate any SEO traction, likely because of insufficient keywording.

In other words, working with keywords requires some balance. To help you achieve it, we’re going to run down four of the most common keyword mistakes—technical errors that can sink your SEO endeavor. We’ll also provide some hints for avoiding them.

Common Keyword Mistakes—And How to Avoid Them

Only choosing short-term keywords. Before you can implement keywords, you have to select them—and many SEO novices spend too much time and attention on shorter, more general search terms. The problem with choosing a keyword like “plumbing” is that it’s just not how users tend to search for things; at the same time, it happens to be really expensive to rank for, especially with PPC ads. A long-tail keyword—“affordable plumbing in Charlotte, NC,” for example—better reflects user habits, and also provides more room to be competitive.

Keyword stuffing. When people ask us how many keywords they should be using, we generally just recommend that they use the words naturally. Keyword stuffing is when you use so many keywords that any semblance of meaning is lost. For example: “Looking for a good Charlotte, NC plumber? There are many Charlotte, NC plumber companies to choose from. Talk to a Charlotte, NC plumber by dialing into our Charlotte, NC plumber hotline today!” If your text doesn’t read naturally, you’re probably stuffing it with keywords—and that can actually lead to search engine penalties.

Going off-topic. Is your chosen keyword “Charlotte plumbing expert?” And are you using “Charlotte plumbing expert” 10 times within your text? If so, then the content needs to be about Charlotte plumbing experts. If it’s about something totally off-topic, that’ll just infuriate readers—and, again, land you with search engine penalties.

Forgetting title tags and meta descriptions. There are the most crucial areas for including keywords—so if you’re not filling them in strategically, you’re missing prime SEO opportunities!

Get Your Keywords in Order

If you’re struggling to balance content creation with keyword deployment, our Web copywriters would love to lend a hand. Contact Grammar Chic to learn more, either at 803-831-7444 or at www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Ways to Improve Your SEO Copywriting Today

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a daunting topic: Because it’s ever in flux, you really never reach a point where you know everything there is to know about it—and that can be intimidating. Just when you think you’re a master, you realize how much you still have to discover.

That’s not to say that there are not some tried-and-true principles for you to lean on, though. This is especially true of SEO copywriting. The words you use to develop your Web content are crucial to SEO success—every bit as crucial as, say, page layout and navigation—and there are some reliable methods for making your SEO copy even stronger.

We’ll show you what we mean: Five ways you could improve the SEO value in your written content today.

Write for Actual Readers

This is so basic, but so important—and in many cases, so easily overlooked. You’ve got to break out of the mindset that you are writing for Google robots. You are, to some extent, but what those bots want is for you to develop content that is actionable and interesting to human readers—the people actually searching for information on the Web. That’s the audience to shoot for. As you write, ask yourself how you can answer questions and offer solutions to the people who might be seeking information on the Web.

Quit Keyword Stuffing

How many times should you use a long-tail keyword phrase in each piece of content? Two? Five? Ten? Three percent of the total word density? Frankly, if you’re getting caught up in these questions, it probably means you’re shoehorning words into places they don’t quite belong. Having a keyword or two to guide your content development is helpful, and including a keyword in titles and meta descriptions is always good, but beyond that, the best advice is to just be organic.

Don’t Let Your Words Stand Alone

Sharpen your words and enhance the impact of your copy by sprinkling in some other rich content—embedded videos, GIFs, and above all else some strong imagery. High-quality, relevant images can make the professionalism of your writing stand out all the more.

Spend More Time Writing Headlines

Your headline creates the first impression readers will have of your content, and in many ways the headline is what determines whether your content even gets read at all. It’s arguably the most important component in your online copywriting, then—so don’t rush through it. We’ve offered some specific headline-writing tips before.

Include Meta Descriptions

The meta description—a 150-characters-or-so snippet that’s displayed in Google search queries—is an invaluable piece of online real estate, and a free way to significantly boost your online traction. Make sure to use the full character count to provide a robust summary of your content; try including a keyword and a call to action, if you can.

Of course, you can also shape up your SEO copy by hiring the pros: Contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net to learn more.

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Why Content is Still King—And Always Will Be

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Content is king. That was a popular phrase in the early days of search engine optimization, more popular still once content marketing started to take off. The meaning of that phrase is pretty simple: For whatever other gimmicks, tactic, or strategies you employ, high-quality and compelling content is the single most essential, make-or-break component of your marketing strategy.

It’s a useful phrase for a couple of reasons. One, it provides focus. SEO strategies tend to ebb and flow, as Google’s search algorithms themselves are subject to change—but the importance of content is something you can rely on. So long as you don’t get distracted from that simple premise, you can’t veer too far off course.

In addition, it provides some practical direction for your blog and Web content development. Your starting point is always going to be more or less the same: Devise topics and themes that not only align with your company’s vision, but that also offer practical, actionable value to your targeted readers. That first step sets your entire content development process in motion.

But content is king, as a marketing truism, has long drifted into cliché—and in some ways, fallen out of fashion. It’s enough to raise the question: Is content still paramount to effective online marketing?

Google’s Value Proposition

To answer this question, we need to step back and make a few observations about how search engines work; for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just use Google as shorthand here. What is Google’s ultimate aim with its search engine results page? Like any company, Google is trying to provide its customers with a product that is useful and satisfactory. In this case, the customers are search engine users; the product is the list of search engine results themselves. What Google needs to do to keep its customers happy is simple: Continue to provide useful, to-the-point search results that answer the questions search engine users are asking.

That’s the one constant thread in search engine optimization and content marketing. Algorithms may change and trends come and go, but Google is always going to have an interest in providing a valuable product to its customers—which means that algorithms are always going to be looking for content that gives users what they came for.

Not only does this mean content will always be king, but it suggests some helpful ways of thinking about what good, effective content really is. Consider this checklist of what high quality content should be:

  • Easy to navigate
  • Descriptive and accurate in its headlines and meta descriptions
  • Formatted to ensure easy skimming and reading
  • Engaging and well-written
  • Enriched with graphics, videos, and supplemental links
  • Actionable in its practical takeaways
  • Relevant to the targeted search engine queries

Keep this in mind as you develop content with search engine optimization in mind: You’re ultimately helping provide Google with its product—and so long as you develop something that Google’s customers want, you’re on the right track.

For help with this, don’t hesitate to contact the Grammar Chic writing and marketing team right away. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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